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A letter from Linda Darr, ACEC President/CEO: Making Our Voice Heard on the Implementation of the IIJA11/10/2021
To the ACEC Community,
Last Friday’s vote in the House to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was the culmination of months of focused, unwavering advocacy by ACEC National, our federation of Member Organizations, and associated business and labor groups across the built environment. After so much time and effort to get this bill to the president’s desk, some might be thinking about taking a victory lap. As tempting as that is, the work on this landmark legislation has just begun.
In the coming weeks and months, the Department of Transportation and its modal administrations, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies will begin sketching out how the billions of dollars authorized by the IIJA will be distributed through formulas and discretionary grant programs. Influencing how this money is distributed and to what projects will be just as important as passage of the overall bill.
Back in Congress, the committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate will begin holding oversight hearings to ensure the implementation of the IIJA is going to plan.
The execution of the IIJA and its implementation is a critical period that presents several opportunities for our industry to influence the overall process of turning legislative text into tangible projects and work for our industry. ACEC will have a seat at the table and voice in the process.
There is also a significant political aspect to last week’s vote that cannot be overlooked. Getting to the final vote took nearly an entire day to happen and with each passing hour, it appeared as though the entire process could fall through. While last-minute negotiations created a narrow pathway for the IIJA to come to a vote before the more controversial Build Back Better budget reconciliation package, six members of the House Progressive Caucus voted against the bill. If not for the votes of thirteen Republicans who broke party lines, we’d be in a much different place today.
Those 13 Republicans deserve our thanks. Once again, they were: Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), and Rep. Don Young (R-AK).
Already, we have seen these Members of Congress draw fire from the extremes of their party. They are being attacked on social media with false information about the bill, what’s in it, and why it matters. We can’t let misinformation go unanswered and we need to support the House Republicans who took a hard vote because they understood the value of investing in our infrastructure.
Conversely, we need to continue our outreach to those Democrats who voted against the bill to reiterate the importance of investing in the built environment. Six members of the Progressive Caucus voted against the bill—Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY), Rep. Cori Bush (MO), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI).
In the coming days, we will be developing resources for our MOs and member firms to correct the record on the IIJA. We will make fact sheets, talking points, social graphics, and communications resources available. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these resources, not only to provide the necessary cover for our congressional champions but to put context behind the numbers when the media reports on the bill.
We have come a long way since Infrastructure Week, but the work on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act isn’t done. We’re in a new phase where ACEC and the engineering industry can make an ever greater impact. Let’s get to work.
Linda Bauer Darr
President and CEO
American Council of Engineering Companies | ACEC